Protests MCC Reduction and Cuts in Economic Aid to Armenia; Tilt in Military Assistance Balance toward Azerbaijan

June 11, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today circulated a memo to Congressional offices documenting the double standards used to set U.S. aid policy toward to the countries of the Caucasus – policies which have, in recent weeks, led to a proposed 38% cut in economic aid to Armenia and the cancellation of an $80 million road project to the poorest regions of this blockaded nation.

The document, released the day after the Millennium Challenge Corporation effectively suspended a full third of its $235 million grant to Armenia due to concerns over democratic governance, compares the harsh U.S. response to Yerevan’s actions, both rhetorically and in terms of aid levels, to the increased financial support that both Azerbaijan and Georgia are set to receive despite their serious shortcomings in the areas of democracy, corruption, and governance.

The full text of the memo is provided below.

Click here to view the PDF.


Double Standards: U.S. Aid Policy in the Caucasus

The Administration’s proposal to cut economic aid to Armenia by 38% and the recent decision by the Millenium Challenge Corporation’s to effectively end an $80 million road project in Armenia both highlight the absence of a consistent set of standards in setting foreign aid policy toward the nations of the Caucasus.


— A proposed 38% cut in FY10 economic aid
— An $80 million reduction in MCC funds
— A proposal to break military aid parity in favor of Azerbaijan

The Millenium Challenge Corporation, on June 10th, effectively stopped an $80 million roads projects in the poorest sections of Armenia due to concerns over democratic governance. Prior to this, in May of this year, the Administration proposed a 38% cut in economic aid to Armenia, the sharpest cut to any of the nations of Europe and Eurasia.


— A proposed 20% increase in economic aid
— No MCC program
— A proposal to break military aid parity in favor of Azerbaijan

In May of 2009, the State Department proposed a 20% increase in economic aid to Azerbaijan. This increase was recommended despite Baku’s record of human rights abuses and its recent flawed election ratifying a constitutional amendment that will allow the Aliyev family to continue its corrupt and openly authoritarian rule. (An Aliyev, either the current president, Ilham, or his father the late Geidar, has ruled Azerbiajan for roughly 36 of the last 42 years.)


— A proposed 19% increase in economic aid
— A potential $100 million increase in MCC funds
— A partially implemented billon dollar post-war aid package

On September 9, 2008 the Millennium Challenge Corporation announced a potential $100,000,000 increase to Georgia and praised Georgia’s “strong economic foundation and its impressive record of reform.” In May of 2009, the State Department asked for a 19% increase in economic aid to Georgia.

MCC’s assertion about Georgia’s “impressive record of reform” contradicts its own determination that Georgia falls below MCC standards for Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Voice and Accountability, and other categories.

Human rights monitors, including the State Department, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, regularly criticize Georgia’s conduct.

— The State Department, on February 25, 2009, issued its annual human rights report on Georgia, which documented that: “The main human rights abuses reported during the year included at least two suspected deaths due to excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, intimidation of suspects, abuse of prisoners, poor conditions in prisons and pretrial detention facilities, police impunity, lack of access for average citizens to defense attorneys, reports of politically motivated detentions, lack of due process in some cases, and reports of government pressure on the judiciary. Respect for freedom of speech and the press lessened, but began to rebound by year’s end. Other problems included reports of corruption among senior officials and trafficking in persons.”

— Human Rights Watch, on April 22, 2009, issued a report detailing: “indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks during the August 2008 armed conflict over South Ossetia; lack of accountability for the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials; criminal justice reforms that violate human rights standards; and pressure and threats on the media.”

— Amnesty International, in its most recent report on Georgia, documented that: “Police reportedly used excessive force to disperse anti-government demonstrations in November, and throughout the year there were reports of police beating suspects when arresting them. Unfair trials of political opponents of the government were reported.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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